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The University Police Department’s (UPD) escort van service has stopped providing rides to off-campus drop-off locations. Instead, they expanded their circulation on campus by adding three pick-up locations around the residence halls.
“There weren’t any (pick-up spots) near the residence halls, such as Poly Canyon Village (PCV) and the red bricks,” Chief of Police George Hughes said. “We couldn’t add those locations and keep the off-campus services.”
The escort van’s original intent was to serve the students residing on campus. Before the van was restricted to on-campus use only, students in PCV complained of not getting picked up because the van would be making trips off campus. According to Hughes, UPD’s first priority is on-campus students.
Mechanical engineering sophomore Shannon Ferreira, however, believes the safety of students living off campus depends on the escort van. Ferreira drafted a petition requesting the return of the escort van’s off-campus services and the extension of the services to Friday and Saturday. Rides are currently offered Sunday through Thursday.
“It’s my understanding that the off-campus students are feeling unsafe,” Ferreira said.
The petition proposes providing a third van to ensure the safety of both off- and on-campus students, and suggests it can be done by adding just under $0.75 per student per quarter onto tuition fees.
Ferreira has about 550 signatures and expects to get 1,000 in total, but she is holding out hope for more.
“Ideally I’ll get 5,000,” she said. “I’m talking to parents, students and staff about signing the petition. It’s not an unreasonable goal, but it is ambitious.”
Ferreira’s petition stresses the need for UPD to provide students with a safe way to their off-campus housing.
The police department subsidizes San Luis Obispo Transit for students and staff through parking tickets and fines, which are also used to pay for the van. No student fees or tuition are used for the funding.
“We understand the bus stops running at 10 at night. However, students have the options of bringing a car, walking with friends, biking and SLO Safe Ride,” Hughes said.
According to the petition, UPD’s suggested alternatives are unreasonable because they cost students money, are less flexible and inconvenient to students’ personal schedules.
“It’s clear that the students want an off-campus shuttle. We never intended the van to be a shuttle; it was meant to be an on-campus resource,” Hughes said. “If students want a shuttle service, they’re going to have to talk to student government and propose the idea to the campus.”
Ferreira wants to work with UPD and hopes to expand the escort van but has not contacted them yet.
“We’re hoping to work with the UPD, not fight against them,” Ferreira said.